In her 2002 book Snakehips: Belly Dancing and How I Found True Love, Anne Thomas Soffee writes entertainingly (if not, to my mind, with utter veracity) about her early performing days - including in shows on carnival mid-ways. Of course, belly dance in the west has a long association with circuses and fairs. There's Sol Bloom and the introduction of the term "belly dance" at the Chicago World's Fair in 1893, the UK's Sorcha Ra, and Jamila Salimpour's start as a rider of circus elephants.
In tribute to the men and women of the fairground, let us pull back the tent flaps, spread the sawdust and gorge ourselves on candy floss for what promises to be The Greatest Show on Earth. Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, I give you the Sensational Stunt Belly Dancers!
First up, the originator of the term "stunt belly dancing", the lovely Medu Sirena. She was last seen on this blog as the star of last May's post on belly dancing underwater. Here she is as "The Uncanny Marina", eating fire and writhing around on a bed of nails:
And what's this? A challenger on the bed of nails stunt? Let's have a round of applause for Sabrina!
Now, silence please, for the Queen of Neon, Natasha Veruschka. Natasha is The World's Only Sword-Swallowing Belly Dancer:
What's all that commotion in the back row there? How's that, madam? You claim the Queen of Neon is NOT the World's Only Sword-Swallowing Belly Dancer? Do you have proof of this outrageous claim? Who are you?
That was Kiri aka Betty Bloomerz of Philidelphia! Amazing! And of course there are belly dancers who perform with snakes but we're a circus, not a zoo.
Though perhaps snakes are safer than swords. I don't know if the belly dancer with horrible internal injuries mentioned in this story from Scientific American is Kiri or Natasha. Either way ... get well soon, babe.
Next show's at ten! Tell your friends!